Innovative Retailer: Greenwich Jewelers’ Christina Gandia Gambale & Jennifer Gandia

These New York City sisters are doing it for themselves

Though Christina Gandia Gambale and ­sister Jennifer Gandia officially took ownership of their parents’ 35-year-old jewelry store just a year ago, they’ve spent years putting their stamp on Manhattan’s Greenwich Jewelers. Located just blocks from the World Trade Center site, the store not only survived the 9/11 attacks, but also grew to become a destination boutique for New Yorkers and tourists alike. Greenwich is renowned for its selection: a well-curated mix of fashion (Alexis Bittar, ­Ben-Amun) and fine (Anne ­Sportun, Beverley K) pieces at a variety of price points. But thanks to the cyber-savvy siblings, it’s also known for extensive e-commerce offerings, ­Facebook flash sales, and numerous daily tweets.

How have you two changed the family business since taking over your parents’ store?

Christina: The most obvious decision was product choice. We sought out exclusive designers in Munich and Paris, as well as trade shows here, to become a destination for unique ­jewelry. Another important decision was sustainability. Our father used to buy gold and reuse it. We’ve taken that old-world thinking of never throwing anything away and transformed it into a business model: using only recycled gold to create our custom and in-house collections and working with fair trade–practicing designers and gemstone wholesalers.

You’re an intimate boutique with a huge online ­presence. How do those qualities work together?

Jennifer: We use technology to have constant contact with customers, which helps maintain that small-store feeling. With new arrivals, new designers, and events, there’s always content to add online—sometimes several times a day.

Time is a precious commodity for a busy store like yours. What are you focusing on now?

Christina: Right now, it’s training. We want to make sure the moment someone walks in, they’re not treated like a customer being sold. Typically, people are greeted at the door and walked through the store. Even if they’re regular customers who know us, our store, and our products, there’s always something to talk about. To do this effectively, all sales associates need to know about all of our designers and the new pieces, in addition to our business culture essentials. Staff members also help train each other. At weekly meetings, each person takes turns reviewing a fashion magazine or fashion blog and talks about new and breaking trends.

As the World Trade Center site is rebuilt, how will you ­handle the influx of out-of-town shoppers?

Jennifer: We’ve been on a growth track for the past five years. One of the things that helps is our amazing online reviews [on Yelp, CitySearch, and Insider­]. For a little store, we have over 100 reviews—many of which have four and five stars—from New Yorkers and from customers in major cities across the country and overseas. This indicates to us that we’ve been successful making [Greenwich] a destination store on our street and online. But we’re always looking to do more with marketing. Currently our promotional advertising dollars are split between local print, a robust email campaign, events, and online, where we focus on Google AdWords and banner ads. We look at the website as our biggest marketing vehicle.

Christina: Everything we’re currently doing, we’ll continue to do to making ours a destination store featuring independent designers. Part of that is expanding into a neighboring retail space, taking us from 1,000 square feet to 1,500 square feet. Most of the new space will go to the back offices, allowing us to concentrate on more administrative work in-house—such as making our new website even more e-commerce–friendly with reviews and more integrated content to be shared across social media channels. We’re tying e-commerce to social media websites and, soon, mobile selling.

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